Is the disturbing rise in the atrocities against women in  Kerala forcing them to wield weapons in self-defense? The increase in the number of female applicants for gun licenses in the past few months can be an indicator of the sense of insecurity among women in Kerala. 

Nearly half of the new applicants for the gun licence in the past six months are women. Sixteen women have already got gun permits from Kottayam followed by Idukki (8), Kasargod (5), Ernakulam (4) and Thrissur (4), Matrubhumi reports. Interestingly, most of the women are seeking permits for revolvers.  The state has over 16,000 existing gun permit holders. New applicants have almost doubled the number of current license holders.

Related: Disturbing trend: Rape cases tripled in 10 years in Kerala

The district administration and police will undertake a thorough investigation of the applicants before granting permits. In 2015, the UDF government decided to relax the norms of extending gun permits and to get new ones. Besides simplifying the renewal procedure, the government also made it easier to transfer the license to heirs following the demise of the permit holder. As per the decision, the existing licensees could extend the permit if there was no complaint pending against her.  


In July 2015, the Kerala High Court had ordered that renewal of the gun license should not be denied just because a criminal case was pending against the applicant. Renewal of permit should not be denied unless the applicant is a threat to the security of the society, the court said. 


Rape cases in Kerala have more than tripled in the state in the past decade. In 2007, the number of rape cases registered in the state was 500, and in 2016, it rose to 1644 and molestation cases doubled.  Crimes against women were 12,383 in 2015 while in 2016, it touched  14,061.